Poet Mary Oliver says that when she looks out at the world, she doesn’t see endless mirrors reflecting herself. Rather, she sees doors opening out to discovery, pain and beauty, and amazement. For an alert observer like Mary Oliver, almost anything can be a door—a happy dog, a restroom in a Singapore airport, the death of a dear friend. Almost, but not quite, anything. Some attitudes erect border walls topped with razor wire between us and the mysterious world. There’s cynical hopelessness, sure that the Earth and all its inhabitants are doomed, and that there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. And then there are the labels we paste on whole groups of our neighbors, making it impossible to see or understand them. We call them liberals, millennials, Gen-Xers, illegals, old people, “those people.” But with courage, cynicism can give way to stubborn, realistic hope, and every label, peeled off, reveals a door.
Mara Faulkner, OSB